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Parliaments united in combating sexual violence against children: mid-term review of the ONE in FIVE Campaign

Recommendation 2013 (2013)

Parliamentary Assembly
Assembly debate on 23 April 2013 (13th Sitting) (see Doc. 13151, report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, rapporteur: Ms Bonet Perot). Text adopted by the Assembly on 23 April 2013 (13th Sitting).
1. Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children is unfortunately not a new phenomenon, but the vast increase in the number of cases unveiled in Council of Europe member States at the beginning of the 21st century has resulted in increasing awareness of the need to protect children from this grave human rights violation and worldwide scourge. Firm legislation, strong policies and action to eradicate sexual violence against children have been introduced in many countries. However, statistics show that there are still far too many incidences of child abuse occurring in various settings, including the wider family environment of children, childcare or educational institutions, or using new information and communication technologies. It is estimated that one in five children fall victim to sexual violence.
2. The Parliamentary Assembly has been fully committed to effectively fighting all kinds of violence against children, including sexual violence, for decades. It thus welcomed the opening for signature in 2007 of the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention, CETS No. 201) and the decision in 2010 to launch a campaign to promote this important convention. The Assembly has been developing the parliamentary dimension of the Council of Europe ONE in FIVE Campaign to stop sexual violence against children since its launch in Rome in November 2010.
3. For this purpose, it has enlisted help from the national parliaments of the Council of Europe member States, the parliaments with observer status with the Assembly and those with partner for democracy status, as well as other regional and international parliamentary assemblies, setting up a network of contact parliamentarians, with 53 members to date.
4. Uniting the various organs and bodies of the Council of Europe, the ONE in FIVE Campaign is run at intergovernmental, parliamentary, regional and local levels. The biggest success of the campaign so far has without a doubt been the significant increase in the number of ratifications of the Lanzarote Convention, which reached 25 in March 2013, that is more than half of all Council of Europe member States. However, the effect of the awareness-raising activities in the 25 countries involved in the first two years of the campaign should not be underestimated.
5. While the Council of Europe can rightly be proud of the achievements of the first two years of the campaign, the Assembly believes that it is possible to step up the campaign’s outreach and effectiveness even further with a view to achieving its ultimate aim: that all member States (and other States beyond Europe where there is a high incidence of sexual abuse of children) not only accede to the Lanzarote Convention, but also implement its provisions, so that sexual violence against children is met with zero tolerance.
6. The Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
6.1 allocate adequate financing from the ordinary budget of the Council of Europe to the three dimensions of the campaign until its end in November 2014, and to the Committee of the Parties of the Lanzarote Convention and its Secretariat thereafter;
6.2 incorporate the theme of combating all forms of violence against children into the Council of Europe’s assistance and co-operation programmes;
6.3 urge member States to:
6.3.1 finalise signature and ratification of the Lanzarote Convention by the end of November 2014, if they have not yet done so;
6.3.2 ensure that national legislation is in conformity with the Lanzarote Convention and that its provisions are implemented across the board, tackling all the issues related to sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children;
6.3.3 strengthen the multi-stakeholder approach in the fight against sexual violence against children at all levels, encouraging increased co-operation between the different tiers and levels of government at national level, as well as the full involvement of parliaments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (North-South Centre) of the Council of Europe, ombudsperson/child commissioner institutions and academia as well as children, young people and parents themselves, with an emphasis on concrete measures, going beyond dialogue;
6.3.4 allocate adequate financing to all stakeholders in the fight against sexual violence against children, with special attention being paid to local and regional authorities, NGOs and youth organisations active in the field;
6.3.5 give special attention to redress (including at least symbolic financial compensation) for victims;
6.3.6 disseminate information on the Lanzarote Convention and on the ONE in FIVE Campaign as widely as possible.
7. The Assembly invites national parliaments to continue to support the ONE in FIVE Campaign and to carry out and supervise the implementation of legislative reform, as well as to organise awareness-raising activities in line with the campaign and the provisions of the Lanzarote Convention.